Boy, 4, left behind at wildlife park after nursery trip

Boy, 4, left behind at wildlife park after nursery trip

14 minutes agoBy Jonathan Geddes, BBC Scotland NewsClare Hodge

An investigation is under way after a four-year-old boy was left behind at a wildlife park following a nursery trip.

Clare Hodge said staff at Dunmore Nursery in Lochgelly only returned for her son, Carson Morhulec, 40 minutes after being alerted by the Scottish Deer Centre.

Ms Hodge, who said there were only nine children and three members of staff on the outing, described the incident as “astounding”.

Fife Council said it was treating the matter “extremely seriously.”

Ms Hodge said the children had been told to go to the toilet before leaving the attraction in Cupar and Carson was the last in line.

When he came out to find no one there he initially thought the others were playing a prank on him.

But he soon realised they had gone.

Clare HodgeClare Hodge described the incident as “astounding”

Ms Hodge said: “Carson said he stood crying when a man then found him and asked if he was ok and then took him to the deer centre office.

“The deer centre then contacted the nursery to let them know that they had left without him.”

She added that since the incident on Friday she has had an “unreal” amount of scenarios about what could have happened to Carson running through her head.

Ms Hodge said: “The worst part of this whole experience for me has been the fact that there were only nine kids on this trip and three teachers.

“A ratio of three kids to one adult and they still managed to lose one and be unaware.

“Even more astounding was I was told that there was a robust risk assessment in place where a minimum of two headcounts should have been done prior to leaving the trip.

“But this didn’t happen – instead they asked the wee ones on the bus ‘is everyone here’ and they shouted ‘yes’ so they left. They didn’t bother to count them.”

The Scottish Deer Centre is a popular family attraction

Last year BBC Scotland News revealed that there had been a concerning rise in reported incidents of children leaving Scotland’s early years centres unaccompanied.

Data for 2022/2023 showed two children a week, on average, went missing either from nursery or while on trips.

Fife Council confirmed that the Care Inspectorate have been notified about the incident.

Shelagh McLean, the local authority’s head of service, said: “We are treating this incident extremely seriously and an investigation is under way into how this happened.

“As soon as the child was noted as missing immediate action was taken.

“The school was in contact with the child’s parents and the Care Inspectorate was notified immediately.”

Ms McLean added that policies and procedures would be reviewed to see where improvements could be made.

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